College should be banned from NCAA playoffs if they don't consistently graduate a set percentage of athletes each year, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Wednesday.
Good point. After all, the main purpose of colleges is to educate -- and graduate -- their students. But the main purpose of their athletic departments is, arguably, to entertain and attract donors to keep those colleges financially afloat.
Consider this: College athletes arguably serve as unpaid public relations representatives and what I'll call "money and prestige attractors" of their schools.
Are they being used, especially those unlikely to graduate? It can be argued that athetes are using the schools as well, especially if they have the ability to turn pro early. But who gets the most immediate benefit? I'd say usually it's the colleges.
Many of those athletes, and let's be honest about it, aren't there for the academics. Some don't really academically qualify and are admitted only because of special admissions programs. Their goals: Go pro, as fast as possible, and make more money than they would with a degree and a regular job.
Is it fair for those "student"-athletes to be more or less used to attact donors without being directly compensated? In other words, pay for play?
I tend to lean toward pay -- not hundreds of thousands of dollars, but enough that they're fairly compensated, and I'm not sure what that figure should be.